Practical Life Exercises
Dr. Montessori wrote, “A child’s work is to create the man he will become. An adult works to perfect the environment but a child works to perfect himself. An example of this can be shown when two people are shoveling sand on the beach. One is a man who is trying to fill a large barrel with sand; the other, a little boy who is filling a pail with sand, dumping it out, and then filling it again. If anyone offers to help the man he readily hands over the shovel; but any efforts to help the little boy are resisted. He clings to his shovel because the work he is doing can be done only by himself. By constant repetition of motions he is strengthening his muscles, perfecting his coordination and gaining confidence in a particular skill. No one tells him that he has to shovel the sand; he is guided by a direction deep within his own nature. These are exercises that help the children to function in their environment. There are four main areas of Practical life and these include:
- a. The exercises that are used to refine hand and body movements, such as using tweezers.
- b. exercises to care for the environment, these are exercises used to enhance the beauty and to keep the classroom neat and tidy.
- c. exercises to care for oneself, these are exercises to teach the child how to dress and undress themselves as well as personal hygiene.
- d. exercises of courtesy and social conventions -which include such things as thanking one another and using table manners.
Sensorial Learning is the Second Type of Exercise
Here the children are taught to understand and refine the senses of sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing. Montessori felt that this was the ideal time to give children equipment which would sharpen their senses and enable them to understand the many impressions they receive through their senses. Each Sensorial materials isolates one defining quality such as color, weight, shape, texture, size, sound, smell, etc.
Once the child has mastered these activities, he can be introduced to the next three areas of the preschool.
The Introduction to Reading and Writing
The introduction to reading and writing where the children learn the sounds of the letters and then later to read and write words. Basic grammar is also introduced including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. This is done in both English and French. To be able to write, a child must develop a two-fold skill. He must commit to memory the shape of the letters and their corresponding sounds, and he must develop the muscular skill necessary for using the pencil with control. The child learns to write not by writing, but by performing a number of purposefully structured activities which prepare him both indirectly and directly for facility in handwriting.
The children learn to recognize and write their numbers from 1 to 10 and then later from 1 to 100. After this addition, subtraction, multiplication and maybe even division can be introduced. A child can learn basic concept by using concrete materials during the years when he enjoys manipulating equipment. Montessori demonstrated that if a child has access to mathematical equipment in his early years, they can easily and joyfully assimilate many facts and skills of arithmetic.
The fifth area of the preschool is the Cultural Area where the children learn about plants, animals, the world and its people and the history of the world. Through this they gain an understanding of their world, where they fit in the world and learn about similarities and differences between people.
Art & Music
Art and Music are introduced to the children on a weekly basis to allow the children to express their creativity.